Having followed the search engines for years, I have drawn some conclusions on how search engines improve and react according to the manipulations site owners make to rank themselves higher on the search engine.
Today, the biggest concern for many is the Panda update, an update by Google which penalizes low quality websites or blogs in particular. Having gone through many of my own blogs and website and also the blogs I was following through subscriptions, I have drawn some unique patterns of how these sites got penalized or why?
Top reasons for a setback on Panda update:
1. Low or Less Content: Mostly everybody knows that Google never liked copied content. But post panda, it doesn’t like all unique content. It likes only those unique content which is helpful, readable and seems interesting for the visitor.
– How does Google calculate this or how can it?
a) One factor is the time a user stays on the website. This data can be collected through Google analytics, the ads code or even by the Google chrome browser for that matter. If you are having very less content , the user will switch to another page or site thereby giving a negative vote for your site. Receiving many such negatives will doom your site with the Panda.
b) Back button: If a visitor visiting your site from google search, hits a back button, then thats a big negative vote for your website as that proves that your site was not at all something which the user was interested in. On hitting the back button, the user gets an option to block your website in search results of future. Getting too many blocks will again get your site doomed.
2. Copied Images : I don’t have any substantial proof on this, but to the extend of 70%, I am sure that google can recognize copied images through similar image search algorithm. So if you are inserting some screenshots for a help post, then make sure you create those yourself and avoid copying from google image search results.
3. Too many pages: Having too many pages for a site which should not in general be so big, is also a reason for being pulled down by Panda Update. Many big sites with too many pages got hit by Panda. However, not all sites having too many pages were hit. SomeÂ authoritative sites were spared by Google. So if you are having a website or blog with too many posts or too many pages and if its not authoritative site then it’s at the risk of being pulled down by Panda. Major sites like ehow and ezinearticles were also hit by this.
4. Site has too many ads: Another factor I have seen with sites affected with Panda is that these sites have too many ads, even more than content sometimes. I am not sure how and what would be more for a given site but cluttering your site with ads is a risk. Â The irony is if we place less adsense units on the site, google shoots up an email asking to place more ads for more revenue. The secret here is to decide what’s best for the user than decided, whats best to earn more money. Keeping ads to the optimum will be beneficial in the long run. Driving away visitors will cause more harm in the long run.
5. Avoid unnecessary splitting: A rather unusual trend began lately mainly by newspaper sites to split post into several small pages to make user stay longer on the site. However, doing so in the post panda era may be a risk unless your page is really too long and requires a natural split. Anything below 800-1000 words should not require a split in my opinion.
6. Anything which drives away visitors: If your site has any features of a farm link site, which drives away visitors the moment they land on your website, then you will need to change the look and feel of the website to more user friendly. Anything which drives away visitors including Â dark colors, unreadable content, slow site loading speed, cluttered content, too much animation can prove fatal for your website.
So what should I do now? When I am already hit?
Work on the content, improve the look and feel of your website. Rebuild it for your users. Make compromises on the monetization front if its required like lowering ad units. Â And for bloggers, blog for the fun of blogging and sharing knowledge. Blogging with one and only intention of earning money will get you nowhere.
Some high authority sites are excluded from Panda, even if they break the general risks I found above. This is because may be these sites are so authoritative that users memorize these urls and type directly the url or name in the address bar or on Google search. Having an authority site will make you immune to the Panda virus but until you build one.. keep moving !